Member Profile - Jill Nunns

The picture below describes Jill quite well. Reach high and have fun doing it. (Note that in this photo she is reaching high with her hands and not her feet. Read on for clarification)

Where are you from?

I’m from the land of cows and oil - the one and only Calgary, Alberta. I miss some friends, but I’m never going back! How long do you have to live here before you can be an official Vancouverite?

What sports were you involved in before triathlon?

You know those synchronized swim teams who play the same annoying music over and over and over again while we’re swimming at Dolphins? That was me for 10 years. Unlike Marie I loved to, “…get in the pool,  stick my legs up in the air and smile” so I trained an average of 25 hours a week all through junior high and high school. My team even won Junior Nationals one year, and I trained with several great girls who made the National team and competed at the Olympics.

How long have you been in triathlon?

This is year three of my triathlon experience.

Ironically if you knew me in my synchro days you would never, ever have guessed that 10 years later I would like triathlons.  I was always the slowest swimmer on my team, spent most family bike rides in tears and hated running with the fire of a thousand suns. Amazing how things can change.

On a visit to Vancouver I watched Worlds with my Dad.  Since I had taken up mountain biking (full disclosure: to impress my boyfriend Paul) and had actually started to run on occasion my Dad declared, “I think triathlon is the sport for you!”  I laughed it off, but he wouldn’t let it go and so for the next three months I was constantly being asked, “So have you thought any more about triathlon?” He finally broke me with an offer I couldn’t refuse, “If I buy you a bike, THEN will you try a triathlon?”

I guess he was right…it is the sport for me.

When do we get to see some of the routines you did in Synchro?

Bring me a nose-clip and I’ll gladly demonstrate some moves. If you want to see the sparkly suits, hair gel and atrocious make-up you’ll have to pay.  Oh, and just so we’re clear, I will never, ever do the splits again.

Which is your favourite swim? Sasamat, Kits, the ocean?

The ocean, hands down. I hate the taste of the salt, but swimming in the ocean makes me positively giddy.  And the wilder the waves the better. Plus you see way more crazy stuff. Did you know that someone actually lives in that tiny red square boat off Kits Beach?

What has been your most memorable sports experience to date and why?

There are many, but the 2009 Canmore Xterra really stands out. Originally I signed up to do the race on my own, but I was nervous about my mountain biking skills so a friend suggested doing a relay team. I was going to do the swim, she was going to bike and we convinced my boss, of all people, to do the run. That was the plan anyway…

Then, two weeks before the race my friend had to drop out. My boss was still really excited, so I stupidly volunteered to take over the bike leg and talked my ex-synchro-partner-in-crime and best friend Lauren to do the swim. The next two weeks were spent a) frantically trying to improve my not-so-hot-to-begin-with mountain bike skills and b) teaching Lauren, who is afraid of dark water, how to survive an open water swim.  Then it got worse. Two days before the race I went out to preview the course. Not only was it way tougher than I anticipated, I got lost and ended up riding for more than 5 hours (worst…taper…ever). Then 14-hours before the start, my boss ended up cancelling.

But here is why this was such a memorable experience. As we sat at my kitchen table frantically calling potential runners I asked Lauren if she thought we should still race. Without hesitation her answer was, “Of course.  It is going to be EPIC!”  It instantly changed my whole outlook. It wasn’t about winning, or losing, or wondering if we were about to make fools of ourselves. It was all about enjoying the experience.

As evidenced in the photo above it truly was an epic day! Lauren kicked ass on the swim, I biked as hard as I could and then, despite an injury, Lauren gave it her all on a nasty 8-k trail run. We may have been the last place team (that actually made the cut-off, take your victories where you can get them), but it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a race.

The Lesson: You are ultimately in control of your own experience, so even if it all goes wrong you can always strive to make it EPIC!

Who are/were your sports heroes?

My Grandma! She is 85, still walks an hour everyday and goes to her exercise class twice a week. At Christmas she brought her weights and exercise bands with her from Ontario and critiqued my stretching technique.  She is my inspiration to stay active.

We understand that you’re hoping to qualify for New Zealand in 2012. Tell us about your race plans?

Okay first off it feels really weird to have this outed here ‘officially" Now there is extra pressure  ;-)I would love, love, love to go to New Zealand. Since it was Worlds that started the triathlon journey it would be pretty freaking cool to get to actually race it.  I know there are roll-down spots, but I thought trying to qualify outright might be the motivation I needed to really push my limits this season.

That being said I know I can’t control certain factors – this might be the year where the Female 25-29 division is stacked – so my ultimate goal is to race as hard as I can, leave it all out on the course and do a sub 2:30 (or better). If I don’t make the cut, but manage to achieve my goals, I’ll still be happy.

So far having New Zealand as a goal has really helped me buckle down and focus through some tough workouts. I’m excited to see what sort of plan Alan has in store for me and I’m trying to commit to doing all that I can to make the goal a reality. Training with all of the great club members is a huge motivator, and I really appreciate the unconditional support Paul and my family have offered. No matter what the year brings I’m sure it will be epic.

What advice do you have for swim newbies?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the more you can relax the easier it will be. And George, I mean relax while you’re actually swimming, not while you’re channeling a barnacle while hanging out on the wall.

What are your passions?

Physical activity, reading, life-long learning, cooking, pop culture, cats (yes I’m a crazy cat lady), good food, snuggling, sleeping in, sunshine, puddle jumping and embracing my inner child. I’m also super passionate about kids and sports, and one of my most rewarding experiences was coaching synchro for three years. So if Leading Edge ever decides to open up an Ironkids division I will be begging to be made a coach.

What do LETC members not know about you?

I will unashamedly admit that I am a total nerd and love pretty much all things considered geeky - Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Joss Wheadon anything, zombie movies – you name it. Don’t believe me? For my University graduation my parents bought me a three-foot tall Yoda statue that was used to promote The Empire Strikes Back. He now holds my medals and has inspired my favourite training mantra, “Do or do not, there is no try.”